In Conversation with Deaf Havana
Amidst their 13 date tour of the UK, I was lucky enough to sit down with Matt and Tom from Deaf Havana to discuss the band’s troubled past few years and the making of their Top 5 UK Album, ‘All These Countless Nights’.
Knowing everything you know now, would you do anything differently during the ‘Fools & Worthless Liars’ / ‘Old Souls’ period?
Matt: “Yeah. What it would be is taking control of the other aspects of being in a band that aren’t playing the music. At that point in time around ‘Old Souls’ we were very much under the opinion that we were employing other people to do jobs, so we should just able to concentrate on the music. But sadly it doesn’t always work out like that“
‘Trigger’ is arguably the most successful single off the new record, yet in 2014 you were saying you were about to record & release it. Did that recording ever happen?
Matt: “Yeah, We did record it in then!”
So, why didn’t it come out then and is it that version that made it onto the album?
Matt: “The only thing that’s different on the album version is that there’s like 3 more guitar lines to thicken out the chorus”
Tom: “Bass, drums, keys are all the same”
Matt: “Vocals are the same take too. We recorded it the day we got back from the You Me At Six tour and the next day we went on the UK run, and that was at the end of a period where we still thought we were doing brilliantly. We were gonna put it on a repackaged version of Old Souls.
It got to that point about halfway through the year where we realised something was going seriously wrong so we parted ways with pretty much everyone in our team. Then we were thinking we could theoretically still put this song out. We listened to it together and i remember just being like ‘This is a really good song, we need to have it as one of the singles on our next record’”
Tom: “If we hadn’t have done that, if we hadn’t have saved that song… well that’s the song that got us our new management deal, our new record deal.”
Matt: “Actually that was a big part of our leverage. That’s when we started getting smart.”
Tom: “We were just gonna put it out on our own but we were like ‘If we’re gonna do another record eventually, we should probably save this for it’. We were thinking, if we’re gonna split up we’ll put it out. If not, we’ll save it.
Matt: “And then luckily things worked out”.
Are there any other songs from around that time that made it to now?
*Tom shakes his head*
Matt: “There’s a couple of pieces of songs that made it through, Ashes was written during that year…. Not really. That’s another thing, James was not in the right headspace to write at all.
So then a year after that James started his solo project. Did any of those songs make it through to this album, I’m pretty sure ‘Seattle’ did?
Matt: “Yeah, Seattle did.”
Tom: “There was another one that nearly made it….”
Matt: “Oh yeah!”
Tom: “What’s it called…..?”
Now, about Sickago (“sick-ago”)… is that how you say it?!
Tom: “Sick-argo. Like Chicago.”
Matt: “Stupid Name.”
Tom: “They went to Chicago and….”
Matt: “No, they were listening to a song called ‘Chicago’ by Michael Jackson and thought it was sick, that’s why they called it Sickago!”
Was it always your intention to bring that out later after being a bonus track?
Matt: “We were thinking of putting it on the record as well but as much as we love the song… we really thought about how to make ‘All These Countless Nights’ flow and it just didn’t quite fit with the way we managed to get it to end up.
So how do you go about choosing the order of the songs on an album?
Matt: “Well everyone has their own ideas. I just remember James and I sat down for a couple of hours and came up with like 7 different different tracklistings.”
Tom: “Adam (Record Producer) actually came up with the final one. We didn’t want to have 2 slow songs together, Seattle & St Paul’s. But Adam made it so that it fluctuated more and the slow songs are together rather than splitting them up which I always think is a bad idea but it worked!”
It is cool how you actually took time to decide exactly how the album should be listened to.
Matt: “It’s something we’ve never really done before”
Tom: “The moment we wrote ‘Ashes’ I knew that had to be the first track. And Pensacola, the massive ending on that has to make it the last song for me.”
What tends to be everyone’s favourite Reworked song on the new album? Is it ‘Like a Ghost’ because that’s clearly the best?
Matt: “That is my favourite cause it sounds like Massive Attack.”
Tom: “I think again, I’m gonna have to go with the ‘Ashes’ one.”
Matt: “Well that is really good, yeah! ‘Pensacola’’s really good too.”
Tom: “‘Sing’ as well.’”
Yeah that one’s great! It kind of sounds like….
Matt & Tom: “The Lumineers.”
Would you ever consider doing another Reworked tour, the same way that in 2013 you did ‘An Evening with Deaf Havana’?
Matt: “Yeah, for sure.”
Is there a reason you wanted to do this album reworked, but never got round to doing Old Souls?
Tom: “Well we wanted to..”
Matt: “We didn’t have the money!”
Tom: “Yeah, this is what we were talking about earlier when we parted ways with all our team. We wanted to do Old Souls reworked and put Trigger on as the extra track.”
Would you ever consider doing something for the 10 year anniversary of ‘Meet Me Halfway’?
Tom: “Maybe, I don’t know. We definitely would for ‘Fools & Worthless Liars’ consider doing a 10 year.”
Yeah, I definitely would not expect a tour. Maybe one song reworked?
Tom: “I’m not sure. We’ve not spoken about it at all. I don’t think so. It’s a different band now. We don’t really touch those songs anymore.”
Matt: “Well we did one awhile ago.”
Tom: “At 2000 Trees?”
Matt: “The year before actually, the year before the fan voted set. We did it and thought that people would enjoy it… and no one cared! So we were just like… alright then. Haha!”
How did you go about choosing the setlist for tonight?
Tom: “We picked a good variety of songs from our new record which we’re obviously trying to promote. A couple of the reworked versions. Then a mixture of old songs we haven’t played in a while and old fan favourite songs. We have some ones that we’ve never played before! We’ve kept it interesting for us as well as the fans.”
From what you’ve got from the next album so far, would you say you’re actively trying to do something different or that you’re just writing songs and seeing how they turn out?
Matt: “Yeah, a bit more like that I think. It’s never a conscious thing with a different sound as well, it just ends up that way.”
Tom: “It’s just natural. I don’t know, people get a bit.. bored.”
Matt: “It’s important to develop as musicians in the band.”
Classic end of interview questions now; any bands you’ve not played with that you’d like to?
Tom: “I could say the classics like ‘Queens of the Stone Age’ and ‘Foo Fighters’ but I don’t think we’d fit in with them. If you’d had asked me a year ago my answer would’ve been ‘Kings of Leon’.”
How did that go actually? I remember at 2000 Trees James saying you’d just had a run of ‘okay’ gigs.
Tom: “I thought it was brilliant! It is weird playing in an arena of people that don’t want to see you.”
Matt: “In Germany the crowds tend to be a lot more attentive to support bands I find. So that generally worked really well for us and helped us get a lot more attention in Germany.”
And finally, anyone you’re listening to at the moment you’d recommend?
Tom: “‘Black Foxxes’ and ‘Decade’. They’re amazing, they actually are great.”
Matt: “A band called ‘Pianos Become the Teeth’, they just released their first new song in a while. Ah, one of my favourite bands in the UK is a band called ‘Tigercub’. I think they’re fucking brilliant.”
The Deluxe version of Deaf Havana’s 4th studio album ‘All These Countless Nights’ is available now.